Child behaviour problems are common and not necessarily a sign that a child will go on to develop more serious behavioural problems. However, any problems are best addressed as early as possible to establish appropriate patterns of behaving and relating to others.
Here are some common behavioural problems in children reported by parents that our clinical psychologists are able to provide treatment and help for:
- Disobeying instructions
- Talking back or being argumentative
- Aggression towards peers or adults
- Excessive crying, whining or fussing
- Bullying or teasing
- Temper tantrums or difficulties expressing and managing anger
- Difficulties when they do not get their own way
- Sibling rivalry
- Difficulties with chores or doing things independently
- Refusing to attend school
- Low motivation or not complying with class-work or homework
- Problems complying with routines such as waking up, bed time, meal times, bathing, brushing teeth, etc
- Lying, swearing or stealing
- Difficulties getting along with other children or displaying sportsmanship
- Frequent or constant demands for parents’ attention
If your child displays a variety of these behaviours and they are occurring most of the time and interfering with their ability to form friendships or progress at school, it may indicate a more severe problem such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Parenting can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but can also be stressful and demanding. Behaviour Management Training for parents has been shown to be a highly effective strategy in addressing the various behavioural problems above. After a thorough assessment, the psychologist and parents can develop an understanding of the factors that are contributing to or maintaining their child’s behavioural problems, and then implement specific strategies that will address these issues.
Treatment for Child Behaviour Problems Includes:
Positive parenting skills. Children are more receptive to discipline when they share a close, positive relationship with their parents. Strategies such as giving children specific praise, one-on-one quality time, affection and modelling of pro-social behaviours are effective ways of promoting desirable behaviours.
Behaviour management techniques. Setting goals for appropriate behaviours, giving clear instructions, setting clear boundaries and rules, and using a variety of rewards and consequences can increase desirable behaviours and decrease undesirable behaviours.
Teaching children values and skills. Skills such as independence, problem-solving, empathy, expressing and managing feelings appropriately, taking responsibility for behaviour, and getting along with others can all be addressed during treatment.
Forming a solid team with other caregivers. Parenting is generally more enjoyable and manageable when everyone involved in parenting is communicating, cooperating, and supporting each other. When there is conflict in relationships, inconsistencies in discipline, or differences in parents’ own upbringings, these difficulties can be addressed in treatment.
Taking care of yourself. Children are generally calmer and respond better to discipline when their parents are in good health, are managing their own stress, have social support and are balancing commitments well – including taking time for themselves to recharge. When a parent is experiencing other personal difficulties that make parenting a more challenging task (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger issues) these may need to be addressed.
Boost parent’s confidence in their parenting. Parents can sometimes feel overwhelmed by their children’s behaviour and may lack confidence in their parenting skills. It is important to recognise the things that you are doing well with your child and the strengths in your relationship and continue doing these things. Parents may also need help to increase their confidence with setting firm limits on their children’s behaviour and follow through with any consequences that they have warned.
Reflecting on the way we were parented. Understanding how we were parented ourselves, and how this has influenced our own parenting style, can be helpful. Additionally, it is helpful to explore the particular beliefs that parents have about their children, and how these beliefs affect their management of their child’s behaviour. For example, a parent is likely to manage their child’s refusal to do homework differently if they are thinking “he’s so lazy and ’s deliberately pushing my buttons” as opposed to “he’s finding this work hard and is anxious about making mistakes”.
If you would like to find out more about our treatment for child behaviour problems or parenting skills, or to book an appointment with one of our child clinical psychologists who provides treatment for these issues, please email or call the clinic on 0405 430 530.